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What Has Happened to France?

Gone are the days of the French passengers on flights to Paris lighting up in Charles de Gaulle at the luggage carousel, much to the irritation of capnophobic Americans. In 2009 some ads on public buses in Paris, for an exhibit at La Cinémathèque Française on the films of Jacques Tati, were censored. The problem? The posters showed an image of Tati's iconic character, Monsieur Hulot, smoking a pipe, that dangerous instrument of tobacco consumption. Worse, he was using it to endanger the life of the child on the back seat of his bicycle! The controversy was reported by Flore Galaud (Evin trouve «ridicule» la suppression de la pipe de Tati, April 17) for Le Figaro (my translation):

"Tati without his pipe is like Chaplin without his hat!" was the exclamation from La Cinémathèque française, [which] decided to furnish the commission with posters where a ridiculous yellow pinwheel takes the place of the famous pipe. "A ridiculous addition for a ridiculous act of censorship," explains La Cinémathèque, an opinion shared by former minister Claude Evin, who introduced the law in question.
Pass your cursor over the picture in the Le Figaro article to see the censored and original versions of the poster. The decision is all the more absurd because Tati never even lit his pipe in any of his films, according to Costa Gavras, who is president of La Cinémathèque. Tati, however, is not the first victim of the law: in 1996, the French post office edited a cigarette out of the mouth of André Malraux on one of its stamps, and in 2005 Jean-Paul Sartre had a cigarette butt edited out of his hand for posters advertising an exhibit at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Even the cartoon cowboy Lucky Luke had to give up his famous cigarette for a stalk of grass. Anti-smoking prudery is not so American anymore.

According to Le Monde, the RATP has also refused to display promotional posters for Anne Fontaine's new film about Coco Chanel, in which Audrey Tautou is shown with a cigarette in her hand. Yes, because Coco Chanel NEVER smoked.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The better question for this article might be: what is wrong with censor-happy Americans? No?